Thursday, April 10, 2014

Millard murder ruled a suicide inside two days

Once upon a time, there was a mantra within the coroner’s office and the city’s homicide squad: 'Think dirty,' it held. In other words, be suspicious and curious 

Supplied evidence photo from Toronto Police at the Etobicoke home of Wayne Millard father of two-time convicted son Dellen.

In this artist's sketch, Dellen Millard (left) appears in court in Toronto on Thursday, May 31, 2018 for his judge-only trial for the murder of his father, Wayne Millard

TORONTO — It is trite knowledge that what happens in police investigations bears little resemblance to what happens in television police investigations, where things move along at a proper clip and unfold neatly.

But still, the story of Wayne Millard’s death on Nov. 29, 2012 is a story of a non-investigation, or at best an investigation that really wasn’t.

It is a tale of the incurious.

Millard was a former pilot and owner of Millardair, the family business and former aviation company he was attempting to turn into a maintenance repair facility when, at the age of 71, he was found dead in his bed at his Etobicoke, Ont., bungalow.

His only child, the 32-year-old twice-convicted killer Dellan Millard (who with his pal Mark Smich was convicted and sentenced to life for the slayings of Laura Babcock and Tim Bosma), is charged with first-degree murder in Wayne’s death too, and is now on trial before Ontario Superior Court Judge Maureen Forestell.

He is pleading not guilty.

To understand how sleepy was the original probe of Wayne’s death, the graphic pictures now in evidence are the best evidence.

They show Wayne lying on his left side, his right hand under his face, his left arm and hand outstretched.

There is blood on the pillow his face rests upon, and a great thick trail of it drips down the side of the mattress and box spring.

Because the left side of his face is buried in the pillow, it isn’t jump-out-at-you obvious that he had been shot through the left eye, but neither is it a supremely difficult feat to see it.

In fact, to the dopey layman, untrained in investigative techniques, it looks for all the world like the poor man was shot or, assuming he was more lithe and flexible than his general appearance and age suggested, that he shot himself in the head via the left eye while simultaneously cradling his face in his right hand.

And yet, when the first paramedic to arrive at the scene — the call came in from Wayne’s long-time ex-wife, who had been called to the house by Dellen after his purported discovery of the body — was asked if he observed “any injuries,” his reply was that he had not.

Medic Bill Smith told the judge, in cross-examination by defence lawyer Ravin Pillay, that he’d been told that Wayne was an alcoholic and, he said, it was not unheard of for long-time alcoholics to have blood and vomit coming from their mouths. Sometimes, apparently, the blood vessels there burst.

In any case, Smith said, he knew straight off that Wayne was dead — by his dark skin colour, which means a lack of circulation, by how cold he was — and touched his neck, to confirm there was no pulse.

Next on the scene was a series of Toronto Police officers: a supervisor in the form of Sgt. Richard Nimmo and a couple of folks to preserve the integrity of the place.

None of those who testified Friday appeared to have noticed that at the side of the bed where Wayne lay dead in his black underpants and a T-shirt, between the bed and a dresser, was a Lululemon bag (it had the brand’s usual slogans on it, such as LOVE DEEPLY) with blood at one end and on the top of it, a six-shot revolver.

It was the coroner, Dr. David Evans, who spotted the wood-handled black gun.

(It was later swabbed for DNA by the extremely competent and thorough forensic officer, Det.-Const. Jeffrey Johnston, and later still, after Dellen was under investigation for the Babcock and Bosma murders and the Toronto Police had another look at Wayne’s death, Dellen’s DNA was found on the grip.)

In any case, the discovery of the gun was highly alert of Evans, but it appears that thereafter, his alertness or at least his inquisitiveness vanished.

In less than two days, on Dec. 1, he had concluded that the death was a suicide, and that, at least until police re-opened the case in the spring of 2013, was that.

How ironic it is that so many of those involved in the original investigation of Wayne’s death appeared to have been very keen to avoid suspicious thinking. Nimmo, for instance, even had a line in his notebook that read, “Nothing appeared suspicious.” He even gave Dellen and his mother space and time to grieve.

Once upon a time, there was a mantra within the coroner’s office and the city’s homicide squad: “Think dirty,” it held. In other words, be suspicious and curious.

The saying fell into disrepute after the downfall of disgraced pathologist Dr. Charles Smith, who took it to the extreme and was harshly and properly criticized for the wrongful convictions that followed.

But holy moly, a fellow who looked like he somehow managed to shoot himself in the eye while appearing for all the world like he was peacefully asleep doesn’t warrant a smidgen of suspicious thinking?

Dr. Evans is scheduled to testify Monday.
An incinerator that police say was used to dispose of Tim Bosma's body.

  Mark Smich says his co-accused, Dellen Millard, "looked like a lunatic" after he shot Tim Bosma.

Smich, 28, began testifying Wednesday as the defence opened its case in the first-degree murder trial being held in Superior Court in Hamilton.

The Oakville man said he wasn't in Bosma's truck when the shooting happened. He told the jury he was following the vehicle in Millard's Yukon that the two had driven to the Bosma home in the Hamilton suburb of Ancaster.

The two vehicles drove for a short while before Millard, who was driving Bosma's truck, swerved to the side of the road and stopped.

When Millard got out of Bosma's truck, Smich said he appeared to put what looked like a gun into a satchel. He said he did not know that Millard was bringing a gun to the test drive.

"He just said, 'I'm taking the truck' and goes and grabs some stuff from the back. When I got out, I walked around, and I seen a bullet hole in the window and Mr. Bosma laying with his head against the dashboard."

That revelation was the first firsthand account of what may have happened to Bosma that the jury has heard.

"He looked mad, like a lunatic. Like something came over him," the witness testified.​

Both Smich and Millard, 30, have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Testimony hits Bosma family hard

Smich's recounting of what allegedly happened on the fatal test drive appeared devastating for the Bosma family listening inside the courtroom, with Bosma's mother Mary running from the room, and his widow Sharlene crying with her head down. Bosma's mother didn't return.

"The way that it went down was not how it was supposed to go down," Smich said. "Any criminal activity we've done together, no one's ever been harmed." He testified the "plan" was for the two to "scope out" Bosma's truck, and then come back later to steal it.

Smich said Millard was "very forceful," and told him to get the licence plates for his red Dodge truck out of the SUV and put them on Bosma's truck. Smich said he did.

"I felt like I had no choice. I was scared," Smich said.

Smich said he then accompanied Millard to his farm in Ayr, Ont. He told the court that Millard told him to check the gate and make sure they weren't being followed. 

"When I got back, then I seen Mr. Bosma laying on what appeared to be some sort of a sheet," Smich said. "The passenger-side door of the truck was open. There was blood all over the whole left side of Mr. Bosma around his head.

"He proceeded to open the hatch of the Eliminator. He asked me ... he told me to help him put Mr. Bosma into the Eliminator, and I told him I can't. I didn't want to go anywhere near that ... I told him it was because of my shoulder." Smich previously testified he had a lingering shoulder injury at the time.

Millard then let out a "huff" as if he was irritated, Smich said, but he didn't specify how Bosma's body got into the incinerator. He later said that he did not burn Bosma.

Stripping Bosma's truck

The two men then drove to Millard's hangar at the Waterloo airport, Smich said, where Millard instructed him to strip out the inside of Bosma's truck and then wash it with a hose.

"He went and turned on the Eliminator," Smich said, adding that he "tried to stay as far away as possible" when Millard was using the Eliminator at the hangar.

In the following days, he said he and Millard burned the parts stripped from Bosma's truck. He said he kept talking with Millard because he didn't want to "raise suspicion" and make Millard think he was going to "call the police or something."

On May 9, Millard "panicked" after a conversation with Arthur Jennings, who previously testified at the trial, Smich told the court. He is Shane Schlatman's father-in-law, who has also testified.

He and Millard then moved Bosma's truck into a trailer and drove it out of the hangar, he said. On the way, they talked about Jennings. "He believed that Arthur Jennings called the police on him. That's why he wanted to move Bosma's truck." Jennings had called Crime Stoppers, court has previously heard. He is the only person out of several witnesses with information related to the case who attempted to relay it to police.

Dungey asked Smich why he didn't call police, even after Millard was arrested. "I didn't go to the police because I guess I was in denial," he said. "I did not kill Mr. Bosma. I was scared, I was confused."

Smich also said he didn't want to screw up his sister's upcoming wedding because his family "means the world to him."

"Mr. Bosma meant the world to his family," Dungey said. "I understand that," Smich responded. Smich spoke confidently and calmly with a deep voice thorough much of his testimony — but paused and spoke much more softly any time he said Bosma's name. Millard watched his onetime friend testify intensely, while taking notes.

Smich says he sold drugs to Millard

Earlier in the day, Smich told the court he met Millard when he sold him drugs back in 2008. He told the courtroom that his role changed over the years from being Millard's drug dealer to a close friend.

"Somebody gave him my number when I was selling drugs and he called me randomly," Smich said. "I met up with him and sold him some drugs — that's when we first met.

"As time went on, our bond was stronger, and I felt ... he was like a brother to me. He was like family, like a bigger brother," Smich testified.

Smich's lawyers began their case after more than three months of testimony and over 90 witnesses called by the Crown. 

Millard's defence team has indicated it will not be calling witnesses and the accused won't testify. An accused person cannot be compelled to testify.

With extra security inside the courtroom, Smich also revealed several thefts he and Millard were involved in that the jury has not yet heard about, including a wood chipper and several storage trailers.

Bosma, 32, vanished on May 6, 2013, after taking two men on a test drive in a pickup truck he was trying to sell. ​Investigators later found charred human remains, believed to belong to Bosma, in a livestock incinerator on Millard's farm in Ayr, Ont.

Dellen Millard, the man accused at he centre of the murder case of Hamilton man Tim Bosma, is now charged with the death of his father and former girlfriend. 

The OPP announced Thursday that Millard, 28, is now charged with first-degree murder in the death of Wayne Millard and Toronto woman Laura Babcock, who was last seen in 2012.

Millard’s lawyer, Deepak Paradkar told the Star his client will plead not guilty to all charges. “We will defend them zealously,” Paradkar said.

Mark Smich, 26, who is co-accused in Bosma’s murder is now also charged with first-degree murder in Babcock’s death — police alleging the two also planned to kill her.

Millard’s 21-year-old girlfriend, Christina Noudga, was also charged with accessory to murder after the fact in Bosma’s death.

Babcock, 23, was last seen in by her former boyfriend Shawn Lerner on June 26, 2012 when he dropped her off at a hotel in the Queen St. and Roncesvalles Ave. area. Her phone records, obtained by Lerner who said he passed them to Toronto police investigators, showed Babcock and Millard exchanged several calls after her disappearance.

Babcock’s parents earlier told the Star that they had for months received no updates from police on their daughter’s disappearance and believed the case had fallen off the radar when the officer in charge moved to a new post.

On Thursday, her father Clayton Babcock told the Star he was informed of a pending announcement about his daughter.

“There’s always a glimmer of hope,” Babcock told the Star dejectedly from his Etobicoke home. “Even though it may seem far fetched.”

It’s not yet clear if Babcock’s remains have been found. Police do not need a body to lay murder charges, although it is unusual to do so in the absence of one.

Wayne Millard’s death was originally deemed a suicide by Toronto Police when he was found shot inside the home he shared with his only son in November 2012.

Police later reopened the case following Millard’s charges in the Bosma murder.

The older Millard was the heir to his father, Carl Millard’s airline dynasty, Millardair — which Dellen inherited upon his father’s death. When he was found dead, Wayne Millard had just recently completed the building of a massive million-dollar hangar at Waterloo Regional Airport and was planning for the grand opening.

Bosma put his pickup truck up for sale when two men arrived at Ancaster, Ont. home for a test drove on May 6. He never returned and was reported missing — launching a massive search that captivated international attention. Bosma’s remains were later found on a rural property in Ayr, Ont. belonging to Millard.

Story and photos:

Dellen Millard’s strange obituary for his father Wayne:

Wayne Millard with young Dellen Millard 


Dellen Millard, 14, stands with his grandfather, Carl Millard, 85, at Brampton Airport in 1999. Dellen rivaled his grandfather's notoriety as the oldest commercial pilot when the teenager became the youngest Canadian to fly solo in both an airplane and a helicopter. 

Dellen Millard in 1999.

Facebook photo
 Dellen Millard, 27
Dellen Millard at the hangar at Waterloo International Airport.